When Japan fields its first World Cup lacrosse team in 1994, there will be plenty of "thank you's" handed out to the United States team.
As a result of numerous lacrosse camps in the United States, the Japanese have learned the skills to be competitive on the international level.
One of these U.S. camps currently is being held at the St. Paul's School for Girls. In its fourth year, the one-week camp is host to 26 Japanese women, who are from different areas and range in age between 19 and 21 years old.
"They really want to learn," camp director Karen McKeon said. "You get kind of spoiled with them because they are so extremely friendly. Every time you help them, they always thank you."
One main obstacle is that none of the Japanese players speaks fluent English. While most understand English, only a few can speak the language.
On the field, the only familiar shouts from the women are "good pass," "thank you" and "sorry."
"They watch so carefully. It's unbelievable that they are that attentive," said McKeon, who coaches the St. Paul's School for Girls lacrosse team at the middle school level. "When you explain something to them, sometimes a few don't understand. They then get into a small group with the ones that understand and they have a conference in Japanese."
They will take this experience back to Japan and spread their knowledge to others due to the shortage of veteran coaches overseas.
The camp, which started Monday, runs to the end of the week. The trip, which is the first to the United States for all 26 women, includes tours of Washington and New York.
Each day consists of a two-hour workout in the morning and a three-hour session in the afternoon. The women stay with host families, who are usually school faculty and board members.
The camp at St. Paul's School for Girls started with a connection between Johns Hopkins and the Japanese Lacrosse Association. Most of the Japanese men attend the camps held by colleges.
The women have about one or two years playing experience. In Japan, they play in competitive leagues on the college level.
"Every year, the kids coming over keep getting better and better," McKeon said. "They have the skills equivalent to people playing five and six years."
Besides getting experienced coaching, another perk for traveling the United States is the chance to play on grass. In their homeland, the women play on dirt fields.
They also take advantage of the exceedingly lower U.S. prices. Tomorrow the women will spend the afternoon shopping at lacrosse stores and buying equipment and T-shirts.
It seemed that some already had explored the area as a Syracuse lacrosse T-shirt and a Yale lacrosse hat were spotted on the visiting players.